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Grant kicks starts 50-year Dundas Valley vision plan

Money will hire coordinator for project’s initial 10 goals

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

A 50-year vision project to preserve and enhance the Dundas Valley is a step closer to taking root thanks to a $171,600 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Scott Peck, director of watershed planning and engineering for the Hamilton Conservation Authority, said the money will allow his agency to hire a strategy manager to coordinate action plans on 10 initial goals to be completed by 2019.

The goals were developed in consultation with the public and several will require the help of outside groups, including four official partners, because they go beyond the authority’s traditional mandate, he said.

These include promoting green business practices, developing a valley-wide sustainable tourism business plan and working with farmers to promote locally grown food, the latter seen as a way to preserve the valley’s rural features.

“This person is critical to us because we don’t have the staff person here that we could dedicate to this project,” Peck said.

“To have the funding provided so we can have that dedicated person certainly gives the project the life it needed to move to that next phase.”

The 10 goals include traditional conservation targets, like protecting rare and at-risk species, enhancing the connections between natural areas, preserving escarpment vistas, and protecting and enhancing the health of streams, watercourses, and waterfalls.

But they also seek to preserve the valley’s architectural heritage and support the city’s implementation of “special character roads” that maintain its rustic charm.

The grant provides three years of funding for the strategy manager, whose task will be to try to implement the goals during the project’s first phase, which runs from 2014 to 2019.

In theory, the project will then develop another 10 goals for the next five-year period, but Peck said the authority is realistic about the challenges of the initial 10.

“Obviously, we want to move forward on all of those top tens and to see them get implemented as best as possible, with all the parties involved,” he said.

“We certainly know there’s a lot of information out there and there’s a lot of work to be done, but I think the three-year funding through the Trillium Foundation certainly helps us make a pretty big step toward seeing those priorities fulfilled.”

The other partners in the project are the Dundas Valley Historical Society, Manorun Farm, Giant’s Rib Discovery Centre and Dundas in Transition.

Peck said the hope is they will help the authority on goals outside its expertise and that those aspects will develop community support so that they “get legs of their own” and continue after the grant runs out.

“That’s something that we’ll have to review as the project moves over the three years and just see where the priorities happen and how they may evolve over that three-year period.”

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